New students of the entry-level doctor of occupational therapy program attended the three-day orientation series from August 16-18, 2023. The sessions explored program values, faculty positionality statements, curricular themes, work-life-balance, and more to prepare students for success in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The sessions addressed how the OTD program anticipates breaking molds in education, influencing diversity in the field of occupational therapy, and taking advantage of their location in Washington, D.C. Based on feedback from the inaugural class, additional sessions were added, including: “A Week in the Life of the GW OT Program” featuring a current student to share their experience with hybrid education, and an interactive outdoor activity; “Fulfilling Play,” to engage with students from the physical therapy program.
Upon entering the facility in the Watergate Complex, students received a gift bag filled with GW SMHS swag and a GW SMHS folder that included schedules, personalized name tags for fieldwork sites, GW OT journals designed for reflection throughout the program, and additional handouts to better understand the diverse team and unique mission, vision, and philosophy of the program.
“I loved the gift bag! It came in handy and had a ton of essentials that may be needed,” said Claudia, one of the new students attending orientation. Mirroring the positive reaction, Jenny explained, “[it] made me feel excited and proud to rep’ the OT Program.”
Across the span of three days, faculty shared their positionality statements, delving into their identities, lived experiences, and biases to provide deeper insight into the lenses that they view the world and health care from. Students were prompted to reflect on their background, values, accomplishments, vulnerabilities, challenges, and views, too, in their new GW occupational therapy journal.
“[I] loved understanding the faculty on a deeper level and getting insight into their lecture styles,” said Celia.
New students were, then, introduced to the eight program committees available, which offer opportunities to gain leadership experience and learn more about various subjects. The impactful committees include: academic standards, admissions, curriculum, communications and marketing, equity, facilities, scheduling, and wellness.
“We each come with different experiences, different knowledge, different strengths, and different values that contribute to all of our learning, which really enrich the committees that make up the program. Through these committees, students also gain opportunities to be apart of decision making,” said program director and professor, Roger Ideishi, JD, OT/L, FAOTA.
Offices from GW also came to speak on their services and resources, including the Himmelfarb library, the office of student financial assistance, the SMHS office of student support, and the SMHS impact team. The interim department chair, Dr. Ellen Costello PT, PhD, also welcomed the students on day two.
Classes began August 21, 2023 for the GW OTD program.